It turns out that the old adage “idle hands are the devil’s playground” really is true. If you want to keep your teenager out of trouble – keep them busy!
Teenagers need more in their lives than school, video games, and Facebook. They need activities that develop their sense of self, their sense of fair play, and engage their mind and body. They need to physically move and mentally exercise, and the chances are good that they’re not going to take the first step to get involved in anything. You’ll need to help them.
Now, we’re not suggesting that you schedule your child from sunup to sundown. Teens need activities, but they also need time to themselves, to do the things that they choose (within reason, of course). If you don’t give them room to choose, to make mistakes, they’ll never learn what they need to learn to be functional adults. Part of parenting a teen is walking that fine line between doing too much and not doing enough.
Watch your child, and find out what their natural inclinations are. Are they sports-oriented, or do they gravitate toward the arts? Sports minded children will probably gravitate toward soccer, lacrosse, basketball, softball, etc., while kids who enjoy the arts might find enjoyment in dance or creative movement, or acting classes.
Music classes are an excellent outlet for most children; Shinzo Suzuki’s outstanding philosophy on the teaching of music looks at music as something that every child can acquire and enjoy. Vocal or instrumental, any sort of musical endeavor will boost concentration, mathematic skills, and self-esteem.
Martial arts teach more than just self-defense. Respect for self and others, concentration, self-discipline and motivation are all instilled from a good sensei, and parents all of the the world have reported that surly, hard to handle children become transformed after their experiences in martial arts.
If you’re already the parent of a busy teen, good for you; instead of encouraging your child to get involved, you’re going to have to keep an eye out for fatigue. If your child begins to have trouble with academics, doesn’t get enough sleep, or seems to shortchange themselves on nutrition because they’re always on the run, you may find yourself having to make an executive decision. Again – walk that line between too little and too much.
Keeping your teenager engaged and busy can, while difficult, provide so many rewards for you and your child. Help your child choose his activities wisely, and watch him reap the benefits.